convict labor


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convict labor,

work of prison inmates. Until the 19th cent., labor was introduced in prisons chiefly as punishment. Such work is now considered a necessary part of the rehabilitation of the criminal; it is also used to keep discipline and reduce the costs of prison maintenance. The main types of work in prison communities are maintenance activities, outdoor public works (farming, road building, reforestation), and industrial labor. Considered a source of cheap labor, convicts were formerly put to work on contract, lease, or piecework bases for private industries. Convict labor played an important role in the settlement of Australia, and in the development of some of the Middle and Southern colonies established by Britain in America. In recent decades these methods have been condemned, and prison industries are devoted to the production of goods used in state institutions. Because of competition with nonprison labor, interstate commerce in the products of convict labor has been restricted in the United States since 1934. Wages are paid in many state and federal prisons in the United States and in many European countries. The notorious chain gangs of some Southern states, in which convicts engaged in physical labor outside the prison were shackled together, no longer exist, but Alabama briefly and unsuccessfully attempted to revive the chain gang in the mid-1990s. Work-release programs have been introduced with some success in France, Norway, Sweden, and the United States, whereby convicts are allowed to work outside prisons in private industry during the latter part of their prison terms; for this work the convict receives the same wages as a regular civilian worker. Although U.S. law bans the importation of goods produced by convict labor, a sizable percentage of China's exports is alleged to come from labor camps.
References in periodicals archive ?
If her readers could not witness the punishment themselves, her reporting ensured that convict labor granted a pedagogical lesson in respect for state power and the law.
Convict labor built the post-Civil War infrastructure in the U.
One road built by convict labor was first class, while another road built by a different convict labor camp was disappointing.
Convict labor quickly became less of an instrument of reform than state-run slavery.
156) The PIE program has remedied many of the problems of worker exploitation that plagued nineteenth century convict labor systems.
By the mid-1940s the rate of urban employers seeking convict labor had risen to a third of all cases sampled.
TCI engaged in the practice of leasing convict labor from the State of Alabama," a company spokesman said.
The proposal asked Dillard's to report its actions to prevent foreign suppliers from using forced labor, convict labor or illegal child labor.
State work would be limited to mining, raising and separating ore for sale and the manufacture of furniture and other wood products mainly by hand or in such a way as to have convict labor the largest factor in the value of the manufactured article.
On other aspects of forced labor, see Amy Dru Stanley, "Beggars Can't Be Choosers: Compulsion and Contract in Postbellum America," Journal of American History 78 (March 1992): 1265-1293; Alex Lichtenstein, Twice the Work of Free Labor: The Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South (London, 1996).
1307, all goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor or/and indentured labor under penal sanctions shall not be entitled to entry at any ports of the United States, and the importation is therefore prohibited.
Nonetheless, the case studies investigate a wide array of coercive regimes, ranging from convict labor in Australia to concentration camp and prison camp labor in Germany and the Soviet Union; from bonded labor in India to undocumented labor in California's agricultural sector; from legally sanctioned indigenous debt peonage in Guatemala to illegal forms of peonage practiced in the Amazonian regions of contemporary Brazil.